After-School Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

Parents, class is back in session here in the Sunshine State, so you’ve likely already reviewed the essential safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school. 

Those tips, of course, are:

• Walk with a buddy

• Stay in well-lit areas

• Never accept a ride with strangers 

• Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in

However, Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges you not to overestimate your kids’ safety smarts. Kids under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says. 

She suggests teaching them: “Stop. Left. Right. Left.” Meaning that children should, “stop at the curb, look left, right, then left again before crossing, and keep looking as they cross.”

Another thing kids need to know, says Borba, is how to ask for help. Have kids practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance, she says. Once home, kids will likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too. 

Staying Safe Online

Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff, the author of Wit’s End and Google Bomb, says, “People need to put parental controls and security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.” Teach kids about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online and also, about using social media responsibly. 

While online, it’s best for kids and adults to converse and connect only with people they truly know and trust, to keep their social accounts private. After all, photos and information that go online today will still be there years later, when kids apply for college scholarships and jobs.

Above all, stay involved in your kids’ digital lives. Let them know you’re there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear to have their Internet removed if they tell their parents that kids are bullying them online,” she says. So, keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Heavy Rain? Be on the Lookout for Damage

Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and much vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry. Summer rainstorms are a fact of life in Florida, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. However, when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home. The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!

Where is all that rain going?

Your roof and gutters form a crucial line of defense for your home — and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. Moreover, keep your gutters clear, so all that water drains properly.

Are you checking everywhere?

Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can quickly go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it checked out as soon as possible.  Also, don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions. Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep out the elements, too! 

What about around your property?

Stormwater has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So, watch for patterns, and grade property, so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.

Don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your property.

What should you do during the storm?

During powerful storms — especially those afternoon thunderstorms — stay inside! This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation at the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more severe problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. Monitor the storm’s progress with a weather app or your local news station, and stay safe! 

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Talking to Your Teen About Safe Driving

When teens begin to drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council, the sobering statistics start to pile up:

•    Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens ages 14 through 18. 

•    A teen’s crash risk is three times that of more experienced drivers.

•    Being in a car with three or more teen passengers quadruples a teen driver’s crash risk.

•    More than half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

You can help your young driver make better decisions behind the wheel, however. Start by setting a good example yourself. Also, set time aside to have a serious discussion about the following issues, all of which have a tremendous impact on the safety of teen drivers:

Speed: According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, speeding continues to grow as a factor in fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Thirty-three percent of such accidents in 2011 involved excessive speed. While many emphases are rightfully placed on the risks of driving under the influence or while distracted, the danger of speeding is just as significant.

Alcohol: If drivers are under 21, driving with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal. It’s as simple as that. And not only does the risk of an acute crash increase once alcohol is involved, but jail time is also a possibility as well.

Seat belts: Teens don’t use their seat belts as frequently as adults, so it’s essential to set a good example and always have yours on. Seat belts are the simplest way to protect themselves in a crash, so let teens know that buckling up is mandatory.

Phones: Distracted driving is dangerous driving, especially for an inexperienced teen. That means no calls or texting when behind the wheel — no exceptions. Again, it pays to set a good example when you’re driving with your teen in the car.

Passengers: The risk of a fatal crash goes up as the number of passengers in a teen driver’s car increases, according to the NHTSA. Depending on your state’s licensing laws for young drivers, limiting your teen to one passenger is a good guideline. (And some states don’t allow teens to have any passengers for a time.)

Of course, any driver needs to have a good grasp on the laws and rules of the road, and, because teens don’t have much experience, it’s essential to have regular conversations about safe driving. How teens drive doesn’t just depend on them. It depends on you, too!

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

You’ve been in an accident, now what?

Auto accidents can be very scary events, and in the aftermath, you can feel confused and unsure of what to do next. After you have received the medical attention that you need, it’s time to call your insurance agent. The team at The Wurzel Agency understands how traumatic accidents can be, especially when you are also dealing with medical issues. Our team is here to help you throughout the entire claims process and get you back to your regular routine here in the Oviedo, FL area.

What to do after you’ve been in an accident

Once you have been in an accident the first thing to do is contact the police to file a report. Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s always a good idea to have a check-up to make sure that you don’t have any injuries that maybe haven’t become noticeable yet. Once you have the medical attention that you need, it’s time to file your insurance claim. If you work with an online insurance company, you will be on your own.

However, if you have a local insurance agent working with you, the process can be a lot less stressful. Filing an insurance claim is not impossible, but when you are also dealing with possible medical issues and car repairs it can be the last thing that you want to do! We recommend that you contact your agent right away to get the process started and get your life back to normal as soon as possible.

Contact the team at The Wurzel Agency is you want the specialized attention that will help make the claims process less stressful. We are here to provide the greater Oviedo, FL community with attentive service no matter the situation. Call or stop by today!

After-School Safety

After-School Safety Tips for Parents and Kids

Parents, class is back in session here in the Sunshine State, so you’ve likely already reviewed the basic safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school.

Those tips, of course, are:

  • Walk with a buddy
  • Stay in well-lit areas
  • Never accept a ride with strangers
  • Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in

However, Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges you not to overestimate your kids’ safety smarts. Kids under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says.

She suggests teaching them: “Stop. Left. Right. Left.” Meaning that children should, “stop at the curb, look left, right, then left again before crossing, and keep looking as they cross.”

Another thing kids need to know, says Borba, is how to ask for help. Have kids practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance, she says.

Once home, kids will likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too.

Staying Safe Online

Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff, author of Wit’s End and Google Bomb, says that, “we need to put parental controls/security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.” 

Teach kids about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online. And about using social media responsibly.

While online, it’s best for kids – and adults – to converse and connect only with people they truly know and trust, to keep their social accounts private and to still be cautious even then. After all, photos and information that go online today will still be there years later, when kids apply for college scholarships and jobs.

Above all, stay involved in your kids’ digital lives. Let them know you’re there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear having their Internet removed if they tell their parents they are being bullied online,” she says.

So keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.

Essential Commercial Insurance for Oviedo, FL Transportation Business

If you have a transportation business in Florida, there are unique risks that you need to make sure are covered. Your CDL operators are experienced drivers with the right qualifications for the job — but you can’t vouch for other drivers on the roadways. Maybe it’s time to check out the benefits of commercial car insurance specific to your business needs. You may provide transportation, delivery services, or other activities that require a lot of driving. Let The Wurzel Agency representatives help you customize your coverage to your needs.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Commercial drivers or business owners who employ CDL drivers need to be familiar with federal and state laws. For instance, childcare pickups and food delivery services require commercial auto insurance. Personal auto insurance simply doesn’t cover every situation that could arise on the road. At a minimum, discuss bodily injury liability and property damage liability with your agent. Many other options are also available.

Additional Coverage Options

Your agent can provide details on the types of coverage below. However, here’s a summary to get you started: 

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance covers you for damages to your car caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
  • PIP with medical coverages. Personal injury protection (PIP) provides medical coverage for passengers injured in an accident.
  • Emergency roadside insurance. This is almost a need-to-have coverage for drivers traveling cross-country on a regular basis. It alleviates the burden of high repair bills when you break down on the road.
  • Personal effects insurance. This insurance covers personal belongings that are stolen, lost or damaged.

Contact Us

Contact The Wurzel Agency today to make an appointment for commercial auto coverage required by your Oviedo, FL business.

Hurricane Season 2019: Evacuation

When a catastrophic weather event hits the Florida coast, it’s all hands on deck as communities pull together to weather the storm and recover from the aftermath. Being prepared can make all of the difference in your experience of such an event. This blog series from The Wurzel Agency has been geared toward helping you think ahead and being ready for any eventuality, and today we’re looking at what you need to know, and pack in case of an evacuation order.

When Should You Evacuate?

While clearing out of coastal areas in the days leading up to the projected landfall of a big storm is mostly voluntary, an evacuation may be ordered by governing authorities as the storm nears the coastline and gathers force. In most cases, evacuation orders will be very specific, and pinpoint the region most likely to be severely affected by the oncoming storm. Stay tuned in to television reports, radio, and social media for your area so you know when an evacuation has been advised and you can take action accordingly. Sign up for emergency weather warnings to get the latest on storm-related activity.

Evacuation Preparedness

Know your evacuation routes, and have a designated place to meet up if separated from your family. Also designate an out-of-town family member to coordinate with if local phone systems become overloaded. In many cases, using text messages or a third-party messaging system like Facebook or WhatsApp can allow you to communicate when phone service is spotty.

Evacuation Kit Checklist

Having the right gear ready to go can make all the difference during an evacuation. Prepare:

  • Water and non-perishable food for each person in your group, in an easy to transport crate – a gallon per person or pet per day of water is advisable
  • A waterproof container with copies of all important personal and property related documents (see our blog on important homeowner documents)
  • Medications and medical equipment, if needed, also in a waterproof container – include vitamins and over the counter meds as well as prescriptions
  • A few spare changes of clothing for each person, including extra socks and shoes – preferably in a small “go-bag” for each person
  • Two weeks’ worth of cash or more (ATMs quickly ruin out of funds in emergency situations and are inoperable in power outages)
  • A radio, flashlights, batteries and rechargeable power packs, tire inflator, car battery jumper, extra gas can full of fuel, plastic ponchos, and pillows / blankets in case you must sleep in your car

During Evacuation

Evacuate sooner rather than later, if possible. Follow instructions from authorities regarding routes and traffic. In many cases, highways may have traffic reversed heading out of the soon-to-be-affected area. Keep a radio tuned to a channel delivering authoritative messages and information. Don’t attempt to drive through rising water. Don’t attempt to return to your home until you receive an all-clear from authorities.

The information in this blog series has been designed to help you prepare for a catastrophic weather event. It is not intended to replace instructions or information from your local authorities, whose recommendations in times of catastrophe should take precedence. By thinking ahead, you can help decrease your risk and losses during Florida hurricane season.  

Hurricane Season 2019: A Home Inventory

A hurricane or flooding can cause massive personal property losses if your home is affected. Could you provide a list of everything damaged, destroyed, or missing if asked? This blog series from The Wurzel Agency is dedicated to providing clear, actionable tips you can use to prepare yourself for storm season, and this week the topic is creating a comprehensive home inventory.

A Home Inventory is More Than Just a List

It’s easy to say “make a list of everything you own”, and you can even find a lengthy checklist of items that should be included in your home inventory here. The important thing isn’t just what you include on the list, however – it’s how you create the list, where you keep it, and the ways you can access it when needed. The checklist is a good starting point, though, and you can print out a copy to get you started.

Choose a Storage System

While a paper copy of your home inventory is step one, you can do so much more with a digital file. Choose an online storage system to use as a repository for information about your home and its contents, and ensure privacy settings are on so you aren’t advertising your belongings. You can use a secure folder in Google Drive, DropBox, or another cloud storage provider.

Start with Electronics

Anything of significant value should be documented in multiple ways, especially electronics that can depreciate quickly in value and be expensive to replace. Take pictures of the item from several angles, including an image of the serial number tag, and save them with the name of the item and the angle: “Sony-Blue-Ray-Player-front-view” for example. Then take a picture of the receipt, with the date of purchase and purchase price clearly noted, and save that image as well. If you don’t have the receipt, note the date of purchase and what you paid, and look for a comparable item online to capture an image with the current price.

Estimate Bulk Item Value

Your wardrobe can be difficult to put a value on. If you have forty t-shirts and twenty pairs of jeans; a dozen pairs of sneakers and ten different pairs of ballet flats; a collection of handbags and a wealth of scarves, it’s ok to figure out what your average purchase price is for each type of item and then multiply by the number of similar items you own. You should itemize more costly items, like a formal dress, a pricey designer bag, or a pair of high end heels. You can use a similar approach for kitchen items like glassware and dishware. You can also take photos of these items in groups and attach a replacement cost amount to the set as a whole.

List Home Appliances

Your appliances can be among the most vulnerable in case of a severe flood or hurricane, since they can’t be easily shifted out of harm’s way and are prone to corrosion. Get pictures of serial and model numbers, and of the condition of each appliance as well as its Energy Star rating, if available. Don’t forget your water heater, microwave, and stovetop.  

Keep your Inventory Updated and Available  

Get in the habit of adding an item to your home inventory immediately on purchase, and email yourself a link and login to your updated folder each time. If you need to access the inventory or send a copy to an insurance adjuster, you’ll be able to simply open your email from your phone or other device, and forward the information.

If you have to evacuate your home, knowing that you have fully documented its contents can give you peace of mind in the event of damage done by storm or losses from theft. Tomorrow we’ll help you lay out your evacuation plan and make a checklist of everything you’ll need if you have to leave your home due to a severe weather event.

Hurricane Season 2019: Important Documents

If this hurricane season brings big storms to Florida, the best thing you can do now is prepare so you’re ready in case you are affected by a severe weather event.  This blog series from The Wurzel Agency continues with a look at the paperwork you should have on hand in the event that your home and/or family experience a hurricane or flood event.

Homeowner Documents

All paperwork regarding the ownership of your home should be gathered together in one place, including:

  • Deed to your home (or applicable mortgage paperwork)
  • Home warranty papers, if applicable
  • Property tax records

Making an extra copy of at least the cover pages with important account, deed, or tax numbers and laminating them can ensure you have some reference point in case of flooding or other water damage.

Insurance Documents

All paperwork concerning the insurance you carry on your home and property should also be collected:

  • Your homeowners insurance policy (HO3) and any additional insurance such as endorsements
  • Your flood insurance policy (HO3 policies do NOT cover flood, this is a separate policy)
  • Any other insurance coverage papers, such as life, health, and auto insurance

If you don’t have flood insurance, now is the time to buy it – before hurricane season starts. Even though certain areas are listed as “high risk” for flood, the truth is that ALL of Florida is a flood zone; one out of five flood damage claims is in a “low risk” zone, and a third of federal disaster relief goes to homes in low risk areas.

Personal Documents

Every person in your home should have a swipe file with copies of all ID, health insurance cards, health history, prescription lists, and so on. It is important to have an updated home, work, and school address and phone number list, as well as an emergency contact list for both people in the area and those well outside the area. Include a copy of your evacuation routes and numbers for agencies in the area that could provide help in case of a disaster.

Home Inventory  

A comprehensive home inventory can be invaluable in the case of a loss, by proving the ownership, value, and replacement costs of your personal property and other household items. Next week we’ll cover how to create a complete, detailed home inventory that includes every item in your home that is covered by your homeowners insurance policy, which can be accessed easily in case you ever need to file a claim.

These tips can help you protect your home and personal property from damage if there is a severe weather event or flooding. Tomorrow we’ll look at having a home inventory and how to safely store it in one place for reference, just in case you experience a hurricane.

Hurricane Season 2019: Inside Prep

As Florida hurricane season begins, you can move forward with hurricane prep to help protect your home and property from the effects of severe weather events. This blog series from The Wurzel Agency continues with more helpful tips for storm preparation and loss prevention.

Doors and Windows

Check seals around doors and windows (use a hair dryer to check for small gaps by blowing hot air around the seal and asking someone standing on the other side to feel for hot air movement). You can adjust the door threshold for a tighter seal, and add new weather stripping if needed. Use a weather and water-resistant urethane-based outdoor caulk on the frames outside, and an indoor caulk to close any tiny cracks or gaps on the inside.

Make sure window glass is secure, and have tape ready in advance of a weather event. A heavy duty window film can also be used to help hold window glass together in case of breakage. Install deadbolts on doors to increase their resistance against being blown open, and check your garage door as well to see if it needs repairs or reinforcing.

Power Safety

Know where all of your breaker boxes are as well as the main cutoff for the house. If flooding occurs, you’ll need to be able to safely power down your home. Consider having a generator and fuel to get you through a prolonged power outage. Prior to a big storm making landfall, turn refrigerators and freezers to their maximum cold settings to extend the length of time they can keep food cold in the event of an outage.

If a storm is about to hit, turn off gas-powered appliances and unplug electric ones. Elevate appliances or move them up onto a stair landing if there is a flood risk, to reduce the risk of corrosion. Make sure all of their doors are closed so pets can’t become trapped inside.

Keeping Things Dry

Keep your most valuable belongings on the second floor if you have a multi-story home. Expensive furniture, rugs, and other prized possessions can be moved up out of potential flood heights. Shelving on lower floors can provide protection for other items, and waterproof containers can help protect important papers or other valuables.

Fire, Chemical & Gas Leak Safety

Make sure you have fire extinguishers on each floor, and that everyone knows how to properly use them. Move any chemicals out of the home and garage, and onto high ground so there’s less chance of a contaminating spill if there is flooding. Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working.

These tips can help you protect your home and personal property from damage if there is a severe weather event or flooding. Tomorrow we’ll look at the important documents you should have gathered together and safely stored in one place for reference, just in case you experience a hurricane.